Notes from LA: Tacos, Take 3

February 24, 2014


Tacos Guisados looks like a little shack on a frantic stretch of Sunset Boulevard in Echo Park.  Perched on stools outside, diners watch cooks crafting tortillas, scooping freshly mixed nixtamal out of a big bowl and expertly patting them into small rough circles.

If you walk out back, however, you find an umbrella-shaded patio. Water splashes in a fountain. Birds sing. It’s hard to think of a nicer place to eat a good lunch for less than $5. No wonder the place is packed with hipsters. 

This is the new L.A., where tacos have their avid followers, and little taco stands proudly serve Stumptown coffee.  

It’s the tortillas that set these particular tacos apart. Freshly made, they have a sturdy corn-rich character that transforms whatever's put on top.  That might be anything, from these crisply grilled shrimp in a spill of sauteed chiles and onions…..



….to fine black beans, set off by little frisks of queso fresco….


…to this stewed pork in a deeply satisfying chile verde sauce.


And then, of course, there is the wicked version at the top. When I ordered the taco de chiles torreados the woman behind the counter eyed me narrowly.  "You sure?" she asked.

I nodded.

She shrugged. She rang it up.

The taco, filled with a large variety of blistered chiles, might be the single hottest dish I've ever eaten.

You have been warned.


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